2010 Chevrolet Suburban Road Test Review

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The Chevrolet Suburban is the original full-size Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).  Since its introduction in 1935, this large-scale people and cargo mover has outlasted competitors like the International Travelall and Dodge Town Wagon in the 1960s before becoming one of the first vehicles at the now named SUV party.  As the Suburban gained popularity with drivers from the suburbs, it gained creature comforts and family-friendly features, but has never lost its workmanlike edge. 

The Suburban still offers the best of several worlds: serious people, cargo and towing capacity, rugged four-wheel drive and copious creature comforts.  For 2010, heavy-duty Suburbans benefit from the availability of the powerful 6.0-litre Vortec V8 engine, and new interior amenities. 

Styling is shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe, whose shorter platform is designed for buyers who don't need the Suburban's ultimate capacity.  A bold Chevy-truck grille with a body-coloured centre bar proclaims this truck's identity.  The Suburban is a king-size station wagon, and its silhouette reflects this, with a long hood and an equally long cargo area behind the rear seats.  Subtle aerodynamics such as close-tolerance body panels up front and wind-cheating mirrors help to reduce the effect of the Suburban's size on its fuel economy. 

Once known for its utilitarian bent, the Suburban these days is a much more comfortable place for up to nine passengers.  Comfortable chair-like seats up front are blessed with plenty of elbowroom thanks to a wide console and forward-sloped dashboard.  Power adjustable pedals and excellent visibility help to make this big vehicle comfortable for a wide range of drivers.  Seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger are newly available.  Woodgrain trim flows from door to door, with satin silver accents, and the standard sound system now includes a USB port for connecting to portable music players.  XM Satellite Radio is available.  Bluetooth connectivity is available with a new premium interior package, as are three-zone climate control and GM's handy remote start system.   Full luxury is also on the menu if desired, with power-folding rearview mirrors, heated leather seats, a backup camera, navigation system and power tailgate.  A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is also available. 

To most Suburban buyers, it's the machine beneath the cabin that's important, and for 2010 the big SUV's capability is increased thanks to the 6.0-litre V8 engine that's been added to the Suburban 2500 lineup.  This engine produces 352 horsepower and a very healthy 382 pound-feet of torque, and bumps the Suburban's maximum towing capacity to 4,354 kilos (9,600 pounds).  The standard Suburban is powered by a 320-horsepower, 5.3-litre V8.  Variable valve timing is used across the board, and all Suburbans are E85 ethanol-capable, flex-fuel vehicles, not that there are many refueling stations to take advantage of E85 in Canada.  Six-speed automatic transmissions are standard, and the Suburban is available with rear- or four-wheel drive.  A locking rear differential is available. 

The suspension blends truck-like strength with car-like comfort.  The base Suburban uses coil-over shocks at all four corners, while the beefier Suburban 2500 features a torsion bar front suspension and the more traditional leaf springs at the rear, to increase its hauling capability.  The Suburban, like the Tahoe, is very adept at "driving small."  It's one of the largest vehicles on the road, but a combination of surprisingly nimble, direct steering and a responsive suspension keep it from handling like a beached whale.  The Suburban is no sports sedan, of course, but around town it's very easy to manage, and as a freeway traveler it's comfortable even when fully loaded.  Disc brakes are used at all four corners, and antilock brakes and electronic stability control are standard.  Chevy will also equip the Suburban for serious work, with snowplow prep, trailer towing and off-road packages available from the factory. 

Chevrolet's biggest SUV is also the most long-lived nameplate in the industry, with almost eighty years of production under its belt.  The Suburban is more than just an extended-wheelbase Tahoe; it's the original SUV, and one of the few that has stayed true to its dual-natured purpose in life.  Pricing for the Suburban starts at $51,880.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Chevrolet, 2010, Suburban, $40,000 - $49,999,

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